Recognizing the Subtle Signs of Hearing Loss in Others

Recognizing the Subtle Signs of Hearing Loss in Others

In Communication, Hearing Loss by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Life is a rich symphony of sounds, so our ability to hear obviously plays a fundamental role in how we experience the world. Many people are shocked to learn how common hearing loss actually is, impacting almost 14% of all Americans aged 18 years old and above. And perhaps even more shocking is how profound the compounding consequences of hearing loss can be when someone fails to treat it with the appropriate gravity that it deserves. Left untreated, hearing loss most often leads to social isolation, depression, psychological and even cognitive impairments. 

But most tragically perhaps is how rare it is for someone with hearing loss to seek and maintain appropriate treatment. Studies show that less than 20% of everyone with hearing loss makes a daily habit of wearing hearing aids. And among these people that do wear hearing aids, they have waited an average of seven years to do so from the time that they first suspected that they might benefit from doing so. 

These statistics suggest so much unnecessary suffering. Research has proven time and again that intervention at the earliest possible moment can mean the difference between hearing loss being no more impactful than those who wear glasses feel their glasses impede on their lifestyle, and the total isolation and disorientation. 

But hearing loss comes on so incredibly gradually that most people who are experiencing it cannot consciously recognize that it is happening to them. This is why as friends, family members, and coworkers, it’s essential for us to be attuned to the signs that someone else might be grappling with hearing loss. By recognizing these subtle indicators, we can offer support and encourage timely intervention.

1. Elevated Volume Preferences

Have you noticed that someone you know frequently asks you to turn up the volume on the television or radio? A preference for higher volumes could be an early sign of hearing loss. This behavior often arises as individuals struggle to catch lower-frequency sounds and voices in particular.

2. Difficulty in Noisy Environments

Parties, crowded restaurants, or bustling public spaces can become overwhelming for individuals with hearing loss. If you’ve observed someone struggling to follow conversations or constantly leaning in to hear better in noisy settings, this could be a clear indication that their hearing is compromised.

3. Frequent Requests for Repetition

Do you find yourself frequently repeating sentences or phrases when conversing with a particular person? This repetition could stem from their inability to catch certain words or phrases, signaling potential hearing difficulties. Paying attention to their frustration level when seeking clarification can also provide valuable insights.

4. Misunderstandings

Misinterpreting words or responding to questions inappropriately can be a result of hearing loss.

5. Social Withdrawal

Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration, causing some individuals to withdraw from social activities they once enjoyed.

6. Loud Speaking Volume

Paradoxically, people with hearing loss might unintentionally start speaking loudly themselves. This can occur as they struggle to gauge the volume of their own voice. 

7. Lack of Response to Soft Sounds

Subtle auditory cues, like the ringing of a phone or the rustling of papers, are often missed by individuals with hearing loss.

8. Changes in Social Dynamics

Hearing loss can strain personal relationships. You might notice a shift in dynamics, such as a person appearing disengaged during group discussions or avoiding one-on-one conversations. These changes can stem from their challenges in following conversations and keeping up with the dialogue.

9. Excessive Lip Reading

While lip reading is a valuable skill, over-reliance on it can indicate underlying hearing loss.

Remaining attuned to these signs can make a significant difference in identifying hearing loss in others. Approach the subject with sensitivity and empathy, as acknowledging the issue can be the first step toward seeking professional help. Encourage your loved ones to make an appointment for a hearing exam with one of our specialists today. There is no more effective manner to ascertain the objective data which will determine the course of action just right for you and your unique needs and budget. Early intervention will help individuals regain their quality of life and enhance their overall well-being by nurturing their connections and ensuring their opportunity to engage fully in the rich symphony of life’s experiences.